Sermon for 19 July 2020

Jacob’s Dream July 19
Have you ever met someone and thought “You’re so dishonest, you would steal from yourself if you didn’t think you’d get caught”
The story today is about Jacob and he fits the bill
Jacob was the grandson of Abraham and Sarah. Abraham had two sons by two women. The son’s names were Isaac and Ishmael. Ishmael became the patriarch of the Moslem faith while the Jewish faith flows through Isaac. Jacob, was the son of Isaac and Rebekah.
He was not someone who you would admire or even like to be around. He really had no ethics at all when it came to his behaviour. However he does follow a pattern of people who God chose but most of us would not.
Consider Moses who led the people out of Egypt, he was a murderer before he had his burning bush experience. Think of Paul the largest contributor to the bible and one of the biggest influences on the Christian faith. He started out organizing lynch parties to kill off early Christians before he had his vision on the road to Damascus.
Jacob, had a twin brother named Esau who was born a few moments before him. The story is that Jacob was holding the heel of Esau. That meant that Esau would get the inheritance and the blessing. Jacob hated that. So one day when Esau was extremely hungry Jacob sold him some stew for his birthright. Jacob took advantage of Esau’s hunger.
But it didn’t end there.
By rites their father Isaac should have blessed Esau. Esau was rugged and hairy and Jacob was not. So Jacob, at the urging of his mother, dressed up in goat skin, and snuck in to get the blind father’s blessing while Esau was out hunting. Needless to say, Esau was upset and vowed he would kill Jacob. So Jacob took off.
This story takes place while he is on the run. He is headed back to his mother’s home town of Haran. It is nightfall and he needs a place to sleep. He takes a rock and puts it down as a pillow and then has a life-changing dream. ( I might have a life-changing dream if I used a rock as a pillow too)
He has a dream about a staircase where messengers of God are moving back and forth between heaven and earth doing God’s work. In our bible it is portrayed as a staircase but the original word is ziggurator mud-brick mountain uniting heaven and earth prominent in Mesopotamian cities such as Babylon. The name of the city means “gate of the gods.”
Jacob takes this dream to heart. First he takes the stone and pours oil on it and calls it Bethel or “house of God” . Suddenly something so ordinary as a stone becomes a sacred place.
Many of us have places that are sacred. They may be in a church but they may not be. They are places where we return hopefully, time and again to remember and remake ourselves. They are places where we can go to renew our lives and rededicate our futures.
It took Jacob many years before he returned to that spot but he carried it with him. He carried with him the knowledge that he was not alone.
There is a great comfort knowing that we don’t walk alone.
Some will remember the song “You’ll never Walk Alone” covered by many artists. Part of the lyrics are
Walk on through the wind, Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on, With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
Loneliness is a huge crippler of motivation and of a full life. Jacob was feeling very lonely when he had this dream. He had just left his family and was travelling alone to see relatives that he likely didn’t even know; passing through areas that were totally unfamiliar. Like driving through remote areas of the Rocky Mountains.
Counsellors deal with loneliness all the time. There are many so called solutions including things like learn small talk. get active, volunteer, seek spirituality, find a pet.
Jacob gained courage knowing that he was not alone.
Another aspect of this story is the challenge to our understanding of the type of person God needs. We often think that God is seeking “good” people There is a fallacy that only a certain kind of person is acceptable to God. There is an image that only certain styles are able to do God’s work. I was asked if we would allow people with tattoos into the church. I showed them my tattoos.
I remember one preacher used to say -“if the members of my congregation put as much effort into getting new members as a bank robber puts into robbing a bank – we would be jammed every Sunday.
Jacob was a wheeler-dealer, he always looked out for himself and that didn’t change. In his dream God says I will go with you and make your family great. Jacob bargains. He says Ok God if you do all that and give me food and clothing and straighten out the situation with my brother then I will work for you.
Each of us has different personalities and different gifts. Each trait has value. At that point in history, the Jewish faith needed a wheeler-dealer. At different times and in different places the needs change. There is no gift that is unusable. People will sometimes say – “Well God can’t use my gifts” That is just not true. Don’t sell yourself short. Every person has worth.
Jacob does go on. Remember he lives in a culture that is different from ours. He marries two women who are his first cousins and he also acquires two concubines. (All at the same time) Those four women give him at least twelve sons and one daughter Dinah. Possibly there are more. The twelve sons become the twelve tribes of Israel. Dinah has her own story (Apparently someone was in the kitchen with her and only some of you will get that joke)
His family situation does get resolved sort-of. According to the Babylonian Talmud, Esau gets murdered by Jacob’s grandson over a grave dispute.
So what do we learn from Jacob’s story?
First we are all worthy. No one is outside God’s usefulness.
Second we are acceptable as we are even if you are differnt.
Third God may meet you in some strange pales. Be Aware
And finally, know that you are never alone.
God, within each of us is a divine spark. Sometimes we have a hard time finding it. Sometime we believe that we are not worth very much. Sometime we believe that everyone is better than we are. You have the wisdom and the insight to see our greatness. You have the knowledge to make us whole. Help us to dream the dreams. Help us to believe not just in you but in ourselves as well. Thankyou for your gifts, that make our world abundant. Help us to find the abundance in ourselves.
We pray now for people who are close to us, we pray for others who especially need pray at this time.
Now we pray in the way Jesus taught us.
Our Father who art in heaven
Hallowed by thy name
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us
lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil
for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory
forever and ever Amen
1) Normally during mid August our Gilford church would be appreciative of
the support the community shows as we host our annual Steak BBQ. This
year however, we’ve had to cancel and in its place we are fundraising by
organizing “Ready to Cook” Take Out meal kits for $20.00. Each kit will
include a steak, 2 cobs of corn, baked potato, coleslaw, butter tart and 1
bottle of water, and will be ready for you to take home to cook.
If you are unable to enjoy one of our dinner take out kits donations are always welcome (e-tansfer – )
Thank you and we look forward to your continued support, The Gilford United Church
2) Etransfer info at bottom of page
3) Thanks Cathy and Chelsea
Opening Prayer
Hymn -412 This is the Day
Scripture Genesis 28: 10-19
Lord’s Prayer
Hymn 649 Walk with Me
Go now in Peace
Go now in peace, Never be afraid
God will go with you, each hour of every day
Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true
Know God will guide you in all you do,
Go now in love and show you believe
Reach out to others so all the world can see
God will be there, watching from above
Go now in peace, in faith and in love
Amen, Amen, Amen
Info about contributing
The traditional wayis to send a cheque via mail to one of the treasurers.
Make the cheque out to:
Churchill United Church
send to Agnes Cole at 226 Valleyview Dr. Churchill, Ont L0L1K0
or Gilford United Church
send to Doris Coborne at 1468 Gilford Rd, Gilford. L0L1R0
An Alternative (and better) way is Etransfer
(This method is faster, cheaper and cleaner. If you don’t know how to do it, the bank or some young kid has instructions)
Send the Etransfer to
The security question is – What is the name of your church
Answer – Churchill
The security question is – Where is the Church located?
Answer -Gilford
Another option is contact us and we will pick it up from your porch. Thanks